Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
A one-time econocar has evolved into a sporty, fun-to-drive compact that continues its legacy of good fuel economy and low pricing. The Honda Civic …
A one-time econocar has evolved into a sporty, fun-to-drive compact that continues its legacy of good fuel economy and low pricing. The Honda Civic was born during the 1973 model year as an economical subcompact that addressed the U.S. oil and gas crisis. A top seller from the outset, Civic is the 6th top-selling vehicle of all-time worldwide, and currently the 9th best-selling vehicle (including trucks and SUVs) and No.2-top-selling car (classification) in the United States.
With multiple versions to appeal to many buying segments, Civic builds on its 10th generation which debuted in 2016, with a versatile lineup that includes a two-door coupe, a four-door sedan and a hatchback. Available in either of two four-cylinder engines and either a continuously variable automatic transmission or a six-speed manual, Civic has replaced boxiness with sporty architecture and builds on its sportiness with solid segment performance.
For 2019, the Civic line-up tweaks up with changes in styling, adding standard features, augmenting suspension and steering capabilities, and increasing the popular Sport trim across the coupe (hatchback) and sedan configurations. The new Sport front clip eliminates its chrome grille in favor of a stunning black insert. But chrome is not forsaken and is used to surround a new headlight and foglight design while relocating sensors used in the Honda Sensing Suite, which is now standard in all trims. Other changes include an upgraded audio system display, the addition of a volume knob on the updated optional infotainment touchscreen, larger cupholders, steering-wheel control modifications and improved sound insulation for a quieter cabin ride experience. From a performance perspective, the Sport trim now offers an optional non-turbo 2.0-liter engine in both the sedan or coupe.
I tested the Sport coupe, and was immediately impressed by the sportiness of this economical ride. Slotted between the LX and EX trims, the 2019 Civic Coupe Sport comes at you with that black grille that wraps into squint-eye headlights. Along the sides are upsized 18-inch wheels and angled body creases that create a perception of speed or motion waves; while in the rear, a black-painted decklid spoiler, Sport badging and a sport muffler capped by a wide, center-mounted chrome exhaust finisher complete the package.
Civic’s lightweight Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ body structure and rear frame structures, aid in occupant protection while minimizing weight for better fuel efficiency, and the Civic Sport’s angular unibody construction fits within Compact parameters at 177.3 inches long, 54.9 inches high and 70.9 inches wide on a 106.3-inch wheelbase for a curb weight of 2838 lbs.
Inside, the cabin is packed with high-quality, soft-to-the-touch materials and such convenience features as remote engine start, electronic parking brake, walk away door locking, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and rain-sensing wipers.
The cabin plays into its compact nature and measures a hunched 36.5 inches up front and only 34.5 inches in row two for the coupe. Legroom is comfortable at 42.3 inches in row one and 35.9 inches in the rear seats and shoulder room is 56.9 and 52.6.
The 2019 Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe LX and Sport trims are powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 158 horsepower and 138 lb.-ft. of torque. Connected to either a 6-speed manual transmission or CVT, EPA fuel economy ratings are 30mpg/city, 41mpg/highway and 34 mpg/combined.
CVT-equipped Civic EX, EX-L and Touring trims are powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with peak output of 174 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque with top ratings of 32/42/35 for EX and EX-L trims. My week of testing with the 2.0-liter manual averaged 34.4 mpg.
The Civic Sport’s ride is compliant, road-hugging, highway confident, city proud and auto-cross worthy, with decent, but not explosive passing at speed. The attentive six-speed manual kicks in gently and during track tests, we didn’t perform as well with the 2.0-liter as we would have with the turbo -- maybe as much as 2 seconds slower -- but we did finish off a 9-second sprint to 60mph and a 17-second quarter-mile.
The steering is balanced and obedient, with minimal body roll and predictability in hard cornering. The sound insulation really cuts down cabin noise and the stiff suspension levels out most road irregularities.
The 2019 Honda Civic also features a long list of standard active and passive safety features including the Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies that includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking System™ incorporating Forward Collision Warning , Lane Keeping Assist System and Road Departure Mitigation incorporating Lane Departure Warning. Additionally, all Honda Civic models receive automatic high beams as part of their Honda Sensing® package.
The 2019 Honda Civic Coupe starts at $20,750 in LX trim, and runs through four trims, topping out at the Touring based at $26,950. My Sport (second trim up) test ride based at $21,550 with the 6-speed manual and 2.0-liter engine.
In cool Tonic Yellow exterior paint (at no extra charge) matched to a Black cloth interior, my test ride added Body Side Molding for $217, Door Edge Guards for $59, all-season floor mats for $155, Automatic-dimming mirror with HomeLink® for $418, and destination and handling charges of $930, for a sticker-as-tested of $23,378.
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Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years. </I>
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